Follow our progress running the nursery, watching wild bees, keeping honey bees and creating our own bee-haven in south Oxfordshire

Anthemis tinctoria: best plant for a range of solitary bees

I found this plant a few years ago in the gardens of nearby Denman College (WI training college) and was amazed at how many solitary bees it was attracting. It has taken me quite a few years to find the right version of anthemis tinctoria for selling at rosybee; first I tried the pale yellow 'E.C. Buxton' variety but found that I could only buy this as cuttings - not seed- and the ones available on the market appear to be sterile and attract fewer bees than the 'Denman' version. In the end, although I prefer the pale yellow, I have chosen the original species version which can get a bit big and straggly but attracts masses of solitary bees.

In our research bed during the summer of 2017 we saw males and females of andrena favipes, andrena cineraria, colletes similis and halictus tunulorum - most of them in multiples at any one time creating a shimering effect over the plants as the darted from bloom to bloom. In fact there were so many solitary bees on this plant that, with only two years of data it has jumped up our rankings and is now the best plant for solitary bees that we have found.

The plants themselves flower from early June to early August and can be 'chelsea chopped' to keep them tidy and longer flowering. I suspect they will be a short-lived perennial giving 2 or 3 years of value but will self-seed a bit if grown in dry conditions.


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by rosi